Molotov falls in love with Stalin

Stalin tended to make long friendships, especially with those he could trust. One of those was Molotov (the ‘hammer’), or Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Skryabin, later to take up many senior posts including that of Foreign Minister.

In his memoirs, Molotov notes that the young Stalin was ‘handsome’ to women. Thin, scruffy, energetic, and with the ability to charm with poetry and song, few could resist Stalin’s charms. ‘Women must have been enamoured with him,’ writes Molotov, ‘because he was successful with them. He had honey-coloured eyes. They were beautiful.’ Indeed, many who describe Stalin speak of his ‘shining eyes.’

It seems that men too were attracted to Stalin, including Molotov. They first met in 1912 in Petrograd. Molotov was told to meet in a courtyard, behind a dentist’s apartment. Moments after Molotov arrived, Stalin emerged suddenly from behind a woodpile. Molotov was overwhelmed. ‘I didn’t see how he appeared, but he wore the uniform of a pyschoneurology student. We introduced ourselves.’ Stalin’s pockmarks and Georgian accent were noticeable. ‘He discussed only the most important issues without wasting a second on anything unnecessary. He delivered some Pravda materials. No superfluous gestures. The he vanished just as suddenly as he had appeared. He climbed over the fence and this was done with classic simplicity and grace’.

The next day, a smitten Molotov told a friend: ‘He’s astonishing. He possesses internal revolutionary beauty, a Bolshevik to the marrow, clever, cunning as a conspirator …’ At their second meeting, they talked all night. They would work together for the next 41 years.

Molotov took his love of Stalin to the grave. He died in 1986 at the age of 96, lamenting Gorbachev’s reforms.

Molotov 09a


Molotov 07


Molotov 08




Mao on sex and love (part 2)

In a string of pieces from 1919, Mao deals with the questions of sex, love and marriage. These were prompted by the suicide of a Miss Zhao, who killed herself in the marriage sedan that was taking her to a wedding she did not want. One of these articles can be found here, but there are more than a dozen others. In ‘The Question of Love – Young People and Old People: Smash the Policy of Parental Arrangement’ (1919), Mao writes:

We have many different kinds of desires, such as the desire to eat, the desire for sex, the desire to play, the desire for fame, and the desire for power and influence (also called the desire to dominate), and so on. Of these, the desires for sex and food are fundamental, the former to maintain the ‘present’ and the latter to open up the ‘future’. Of these two desires, there is no absolute difference in the desire for food according to age. Sexual desire does, however, differ with age.

The expression of sexual desire, generally speaking, is love. Young people see the question of love as being very important, while old men don’t think it’s worth worrying about … Only in China is this question put to one side. When I was young, I saw many people getting married. I asked them what they were up to. They all replied that a person takes a wife to have someone to make tea, cook, raise pigs, chase away the dogs, spin, and weave. At this time I asked, wouldn’t it be a lot easier to hire a servant? It wasn’t until later that I heard that people got married ‘to carry on the family line.’ This left me still perplexed. … Society does not regard love as being important, and thus, except for the slave’s work of making tea, cooking, and so on, marriage is nothing but that base life of fleshly desire. (What we call sexual desire, or love, involves not only the physiological satisfaction of fleshly desire, but the satisfaction of a higher order of desires – spiritual desires and the desire for social intercourse.) … In short, capitalism and love are in conflict with one another. Old men are in conflict with love. Thus there is a tight bond between old men and capitalism, and the only good friends of love are young people.

Revolutionary Writings, 1912-1949, pp. 439-40.

Boots, macaroni, new year and kind words: the other side of Lenin

Snippets from volume 44 of the Collected Works (yes, I am almost done).

On boots, from a telegram during the ‘civil’ war in 1919:

Yevestky, Chief of Supplies, Southern Front

During July you were sent a considerable quantity of uniforms and footwear.

Despite this, in all the armies on the Southern Front some units are without boots or clothing.

On pain of being held personally answerable, I order you to take vigorous measures to immediately distribute what has been received among the needy units.

Collected Works, vol. 44, p. 274.

On macaroni, during the same war, now in 1920:

Comrade Basin,

Please convey my thanks to the 30th Regiment of Red Communards of the Turkestan Front for the macaroni and flour, which I have handed over to the children of the city of Moscow.

Collected Works, vol. 44, p. 374

A new year wish:

January 1, 1919

Greetings and New Year salutations to the Communist group. With all my heart I wish that in the new year we shall all commit fewer stupidities than in the old and that the building up of Soviet power, to which the comrades of the Commissariat for Internal Affairs in particular are devoting their labours, will be carried to a successful conclusion.

And some kind words:

I would dearly love to say a lot of kind words to you to make things easier for you.

Collected Works, vol. 43, p. 602.

I should like, if only in a letter, to grip your hand hard, very hard, to express my love and the love of us all for Vera Mikhailovna.

Collected Works, vol. 4, p. 150.

See, he’s a softie deep down.

True love lost … or the pointlessness of marriage

A story from Fred Engels, retold:

An extremely rich man fell in love with Dorothee, a little girl of seven. Given her age, the wealthy man did the right thing, avoided paedophilia by giving her father a ring, and promised to return when the ring fitted the girl’s finger. Patiently wait he did, returning after ten years to marry his young bride, only to find that she had been dead for a year. Subsequently, the man himself died of sheer boredom.

Marx and Engels as David and Jonathan?

Lenin seems to think so:

The European proletariat may say that its science was created by two scholars and fighters, whose relationship to each other surpasses the most moving stories of the ancients about human friendships … His [Engels’s] love for the living Marx, and his reverence for the memory of the dead Marx were boundless. This stern fighter and austere thinker possessed a deeply loving soul (Lenin, Collected Works, vol. 2, p. 26.

Cave Droppings: Nick Cave and Religion

As I sink into my two main projects for 2011 – Lenin and Theology and The Sacred Economy – a brief intro to the book I have just completed on Nick Cave, with a preface written on the Trans-Mongolian train, somewhere in Siberia …

Over 2010 I wanted to engage in some other material that has interested me for a while – the Fleshly Readings book, which has managed to piss off a goodly number of people, and the one on Nick Cave. The latter is called Cave Droppings, looking at things like his engagement with the Bible, the novels and total depravity, death, apocalypse, love, Jesus and a big chapter on the philosophy of music and musical form, via Ernst Bloch and Theodor Adorno. The best bits were listening again and again to all of the music (back to 1977 and the Boys Next Door), engaging deeply with Bloch and Adorno on music, and reading through some 300 or more interviews, unpicking the narratives he spins about himself. And that’s where you find some pretty good turns of phrase, like:

I’ve got to stop quoting from the Bible because it’s irritating.

A chilly thing. The Bible. Sometimes.

All they wanted was the usual holiday snap of hell.

To eat at the same ball of vomit year after year.

When the big bomb goes off, all that’s going to survive are goths and cockroaches.

Two abiding passions – crime and theology.

Death looms large because it should.

And the decomposing lover says …

Jesus only loves a man who loses.

When those two things get together, love and violence, it makes for some nasty song-writing.

But he [Blixa Bargeld] was always more concerned with making his guitar sound like a dying horse, more than anything else.

Sometimes it [Cave’s voice] sounds like the moaning of a dying insect

And the TOC:


Chapter One: Searching the Holy Books.

Synopsis: Nick Cave and the Bible.

The Life of Nick.

The ‘Word’ of Cave.

Conclusion, or, Strategies of Containment.

Chapter Two: The Total Depravity of Cave’s Literary World.

Cave World.

That House on the Edge of Town.

A Slug of White Jesus.

Rain in the Valley.


Lamentations of Woe.

The Calling of Eschatological Madness.

Conclusion: The Dialectic of Redemptive Depravity.

Chapter Three: Some Routine Atrocity, or, Apocalyptic.

Three Modes.

God’s Anger: The Flood.

Murder, Mayhem and Atrocity.

Glimpses of Redemption.


Chapter Four: Death.

From Form to Content: The Sinister Song.

Death Inflicted.

Death Suffered.

Individual Annihilation.

Collective Destruction.

Death Overcome.

Conclusion: Death Is Not the End?

Chapter Five: God, Pain and the Love Song.

Secular Soppy Songs: No Pain, No God.

Painlessly Divine: No Pain, With God.

Painfully Secular: With Pain, No God.

Brutally Divine: With Pain, With God.

Chapter Six: Jesus of the Moon, or, Christology.

Volume and Noise.

Sex and Seduction.



Chapter Seven: Hearing Round Corners: Nick Cave Meets Ernst Bloch.

Hearing around corners.

Concerning the Wandering Path of the Note, or, Forms of the Song.

Anarchy …

… and Discordancy.


Hymn (and Lament)

Sinister Song.

Dialectical Song.


Conclusion: The Dialectics of Theo-Utopian Hearing.

Conclusion: Gates to the Garden: The Search for Redemption.